A Family Permanently Separated by a Sanctuary Church, a Sanctuary State, and an Illegal Alien with a DUI

“U.S. defends secretive Mississippi ICE raids as local, state officials decry effect on children,” blared the headline in the Washington Post, after ICE arrested hundreds of illegal aliens working at meatpacking plants in Mississippi. The Post coverage was just one of many that focused on the impact of immigration enforcement on the children of the people who were arrested for violating federal laws.

A thousand miles or so away, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, immigration policies separated another father from his five children. In this case, Sean Buchanan’s children will never see him again because he is dead. Buchanan was killed on Aug. 2 while riding his motorcycle, when a car swerved into his lane.

The car was driven by Miguel Ramirez Valiente, an illegal alien from El Salvador. But there’s more to the story. Ramirez Valiente was driving with a revoked license. The revocation was a result of a 2018 conviction for drunk driving, and one day earlier he had been denied reinstatement of his license because he had failed to complete alcohol therapy and fulfill his community service obligations. He apparently wasn’t such a great guy off the road either. Ramirez Valiente was twice charged with reckless endangerment and domestic violence, although in both cases the charges were dropped.

Yet, Ramirez Valiente, an illegal alien with a pending deportation order was still behind the wheel on a Colorado highway, without a license, when he struck and killed Buchanan. He managed to do this because he had a lot of help. Among those who aided and abetted in this tragedy are the virtue-signalers at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, who earlier this year allowed him to hole-up in their basement to make sure that if ICE arrested him they would have to do so under the worst possible optics.

The justification for Ramirez Valiente dodging the consequences of his illegal behavior, and for his enablers, was, of course, the children. “My three children and I are terrified that he will be deported. His children need him. So do I,” said his wife in a tearful news conference in January. Likewise, Ramirez Valiente himself invoked his kids as a reason why he should be exempt from the consequences of his actions. “I can’t be separated from them. I have always worked hard to support my family, and they depend on me,” he pleaded. The church’s pastor, Rev. Nori Rost, castigated the government as being immoral for attempting to enforce immigration laws

Ramirez Valiente was also the beneficiary of good timing. In June, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill making Colorado a sanctuary state, which may have provided Ramirez Valiente the confidence that he could resume his normal life – outside the church basement – which included driving without a license, without concern for fellow motorists. Under Colorado’s sanctuary law, Ramirez Valiente did not need to be concerned even after he killed Buchanan. The Colorado State Patrol questioned him at the scene and released him, even though he was driving without a license.

Now, back to the kids in Mississippi. They are deserving of our empathy, just as all children who suffer the consequences of their parents’ mistakes and illegal actions do. Anyone who does not feel for kids in such situations is heartless. But anyone who thinks that we should exempt people from the consequences of violating laws because they have children and other family members is dangerously foolish.

Nevertheless, the news coverage was primarily focused on how the enforcement of laws against lawbreakers affects their kids. There was even scant coverage of the role played by scofflaw employers who bypassed legal U.S. workers to man their plants, and instead helped themselves to an illegal labor subsidy at the expense of taxpayers.

Will we see an equal outpouring of concern in the media for the five now father-less Buchanan kids? Will they be comforted, much less receive an apology from Rev. Rost? Will Gov. Polis and the Colorado Legislature reconsider the policies that made Ramirez Valiente feel confident that the laws of the United States and the state of Colorado don’t apply to him? Don’t bet on it.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar
    Jeffery Lehman on

    These jobs should be in the hands of unemployed Americans who are on welfare.. save the welfare for others who cannot work.. The more people working the more can be spent on those who are in need of disability and or trying to get back into the workforce…

  2. avatar

    Funny how racist Latinos claim such strong family ties so they can use their families as human shields against deportation. Of course White and Black families get split up when Dad screws up but that doesn’t mater to these pro-Latino racists who are claiming special privileges.

  3. avatar

    Gov. Polis, the church pastor and the rest of the useless politicians in Colorado should all have to pay a minimum of $100,000.00 each to the wife and children of Sean Buchanan’s family! Their penalty for not enforcing Federal Immigration Laws and letting illega aliens roam the streets without any consequences for their illegal actions or activities!

    • avatar

      Better still, they should face a jury in both criminal and civil suits for enabling a criminal act resulting in death.
      ALL of them should go to prison AND pay healthy reparations to the family for the PERMANENT loss of their father.
      If one of them did that the last thing they’d ever see wouldn’t be a judge or jury. They’d just see the person who’d prosecute them.

  4. avatar

    Why don’t they send the wife and kids with him ? Now we will pay for all their needs !!!

    • avatar

      All of family members should be deported ASAP! More WASTE of. TAX payers monies on illegals, RATHER than AMERICANS in need! Clean your own house before taking in others! Americans first and FOREMOST!

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  7. avatar
    Diana Talmadge on

    The dems care nothing about law-abiding American citizens, but promise everything to the illegal aliens.